Miller v. Mississippi Resources, LLC
ORDER granting 4 Motion to Dismiss Count IV of Plaintiff's Complaint for Temporary Restraining Order and Injunctive Relief. Plaintiff's Response to the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 6 is denied insofar as the plaintiff requests that the Court grant a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Signed by Honorable David C. Bramlette, III on 6/26/2017 (EB)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:17-cv-41-DCB-MTP
MISSISSIPPI RESOURCES, LLC
ORDER AND OPINION
This cause is before the Court on the defendant’s Motion to
Restraining Order and Injunctive Relief (docket entry 4). Having
statutory and case law, and being otherwise fully informed in the
premises, the Court finds and orders as follows:
Plaintiff David Miller (“Miller”) is a landowner in Pike
County, Mississippi, whose property is subject to certain mineral
leases, rights of way, and surface agreements allowing Mississippi
Resources, LLC (“Mississippi Resources”) to access his property
for the purpose of oil and gas production and the use of a saltwater
pipeline. Doc. 1-1, pp. 3-4.
According to Miller, Mississippi
Resources’ production activities are causing “extensive surface
contamination, oil and other hydrocarbon contamination, [and]
production waste contamination,” which has resulted in “clean-up
costs...diminution of property values, and irreparable health
hazards” to the plaintiff’s livestock, pets, and family. Id. at 4.
Mississippi, alleging claims of negligence, negligence per se, and
defendant’s alleged contamination of Miller’s property.
IV of his Complaint, Miller also seeks a temporary restraining
order and preliminary injunction to prohibit Mississippi Resources
from entering and continuing operations on his property “unless
said defendant is there to clean up and/or restore and/or pay for
damages.” Doc. 1-1, p. 6.
Mississippi Resources removed the action to this Court on
April 3, 2017, invoking the Court’s diversity jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1332.1
On April 17, 2017, the defendant filed a motion
to dismiss Count IV of Miller’s Complaint. Miller timely filed a
response in opposition to the motion, wherein he moves the Court
to issue an immediate order restraining Mississippi Resources from
operating its saltwater disposal well.
1 Though neither party opposes jurisdiction, the Court observes that the
parties are diverse. The plaintiff is a resident of Mississippi, and the
defendant is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of
business in Louisiana. All of the defendant’s members are alleged to reside in
Louisiana, Texas, or New York. The amount in controversy also appears to exceed
$75,000. See Doc. 1.
restraining orders and preliminary injunctions.
injunction serves to “preserve the status quo and thus prevent
irreparable harm until the respective rights of the parties can be
ascertained during a trial on the merits,” and the decision to
grant or deny a preliminary injunction lies within the discretion
of the trial court. City of Dallas v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 847
F.3d 279, 285 (5th Cir. 2017). Temporary restraining orders are
“simply highly accelerated and temporary form[s] of preliminary
injunctive relief,” which serve to preserve the status quo and
prevent irreparable harm so long as is necessary to hold a hearing.
RW Development, LLC v. Cuningham Grp. Architecture, Inc., 2012 WL
3258782, at *2 (S.D. Miss. Aug. 8, 2012).
The party moving for either form of relief under Rule 65 must
(1) a substantial likelihood that plaintiff will prevail
on the merits, (2) a substantial threat that irreparable
injury will result if the injunction is not granted, (3)
that the threatened injury outweighs the threatened harm
to defendant, and (4) that granting the preliminary
injunction will not disserve the public interest.
Miss. Power & Light Co. v. United Gas Pipe Line Co., 760 F.2d 618,
621 (5th Cir. 1985).
Temporary restraining orders and preliminary
injunctions are “extraordinary and drastic” remed[ies], not to be
granted routinely but only when the movant, by a clear showing,
carries a burden of persuasion” on all elements. U.S. Bank Nat’l
Ass’n. v. Lakeview Retail Prop. Owner, LLC, 2016 WL 626548, at *3
(S.D. Miss. Feb. 16, 2016) (quoting Black Fire Fighters Ass’n of
Dallas v. City of Dallas, Tex., 905 F.2d 63 (5th Cir. 1990)); see
also Miss. Power & Light Co., 760 F.2d at 621 (“the decision to
grant a preliminary injunction is to be treated as the exception
rather than the rule”); Trinity USA Operating, LLC v. Barker, 844
F. Supp. 2d 781, 785 (S.D. Miss. 2011) (“the enormity of the relief
relief, the movant essentially must show “that [his] case is so
particularly unusual, the strength of the case so particularly
great, and the risk of incurable injury so particularly unbearable
that the promise of a typical day in court ultimately will serve
no practical purpose.” Trinity, 844 F. Supp. 2d at 785.
movant fails to carry its burden on any one of the four elements
set forth above, the Court must deny the request for injunctive
Ecuatoriana, 764 F.2d 464, 472 (5th Cir. 1985).
The existence of irreparable injury is “[p]erhaps the single
irreparable where there is no adequate remedy at law, such as
monetary damages. Janvey v. Alguire, 647 F.3d 585, 600 (5th Cir.
2011); see Johnson Controls, Inc. v. Guidry, 724 F. Supp. 2d 612,
619 (W.D. La. 2010) (“there can be no irreparable injury where
irreparable harm because an award of monetary damages would provide
the plaintiff with an adequate remedy at law.
In support of its
motion to dismiss, the defendant points to Miller’s Complaint,
which alleges monetary damages to include “past, present, and
future costs associated with remediation of surface and subsurface
contamination, diminution of the value of the property, loss of
livestock, loss of trees and vegetation, all other possible damage
to the property, and punitive damages.” Doc. 1-2, ¶ 23.
to Mississippi Resources, the plaintiff’s demand for money damages
for injuries arising from the alleged contamination undermines
Miller’s claim that no adequate remedy at law exists. See Doc. 5;
AJ & K Operating Company v. Smith, 140 S.W. 3d 475, 482 (Ark. 2003)
(“a claim for money damages due to contamination flies in the face
of any contention that no adequate remedy at law exists”).
In response, Miller maintains that he will be “irreparably
injured if [the defendant] is allowed to continue operating its
salt water disposal well.” Doc. 6, p. 3.
But aside from his
conclusory assertion that irreparable harm will result, Miller has
failed to produce a scintilla of evidence or legal authority to
support that he will be irreparably injured if injunctive relief
substantially similar to those previously brought by the plaintiff
against Mississippi Resources’ predecessors-in-interest, and in
his prior suit for negligence, Miller sought monetary damages
without requesting injunctive relief. See Doc. 5-2.
determinative of the present issue, this fact certainly suggests
that monetary damages may provide an adequate remedy at law for
the plaintiff’s alleged injury. Moreover, Miller has not presented
any argument or explanation as to why the monetary damages demanded
in his Complaint will provide an inadequate remedy in this case.
Janvey, 647 F.3d at 600; see also Digital Generation, Inc. v.
Boring, 869 F. Supp. 2d 761, 777-78 (N.D. Tex. 2012) (denying
preliminary injunction where movant failed to adduce any evidence
demonstrating irreparable harm); Matrix Partners VIII, LLP v.
Natural Resource Recovery, Inc., 2009 WL 175132, at *7 (E.D. Tex.
Jan. 23, 2009) (finding no irreparable injury where plaintiff
provided no evidence to suggest that money damages demanded in
complaint would be insufficient); Holland America Ins. Co. v.
Succession of Roy, 777 F.2d 992, 997 (5th Cir. 1985) (“speculative
injury is not sufficient; there must be more than an unfounded
fear on the part of the applicant”).
Finding no reason why the
insufficient to make the plaintiff whole, the Court concludes that
Miller has failed to make a clear showing of irreparable injury.
Though the absence of irreparable injury necessitates the
denial of injunctive relief in this case, the Court finds that
Miller has also failed to make a clear showing as to any of the
remaining prerequisites to injunctive relief under Rule 65.
the first element, Miller argues that he is likely to succeed on
the merits of his claim because Mississippi Resources has breached
a contract and failed to fulfill its obligations pursuant to the
identified the alleged contract or its terms, nor has Miller shown
how Mississippi Resources allegedly breached those terms. As to
the third and fourth elements, Miller claims that the “balance of
harm” would be tipped in his favor and that the requested relief
is “fully consistent with the objective of protecting the public
interest.” Doc. 6, pp. 3-4. Yet, the plaintiff again relies solely
upon his own unsupported, conclusory statements.
Based on the
record, the Court cannot conclude that Miller has made a clear
showing that he is entitled to the “extraordinary and drastic
relief” afforded by a temporary restraining order or preliminary
Therefore, the plaintiff’s request for a temporary
restraining order and preliminary injunction shall be denied and
the relevant portion of the Complaint dismissed.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Response to Defendant’s
Motion to Dismiss Count IV of the Complaint (docket entry 6) is
DENIED insofar as the plaintiff requests that the Court grant a
temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction;
FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Count IV
Injunctive Relief (docket entry 4) is GRANTED;
FURTHER ORDERED that Count IV of Plaintiff’s Complaint is
SO ORDERED, this the 26th day of June, 2017.
/s/ David Bramlette_________
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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